Climate change is a phenomenon of critical concern. The impacts of climate change can already be observed in many places around the world and in the United States. From rising sea levels, to major wildfires, and changing weather patterns, climate change is already affecting human health, water supplies, infrastructure, and ecosystems. Although climate change cannot be avoided entirely, the most severe impacts of climate change can be minimized by substantially reducing the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) released into the atmosphere. To prepare for the impacts that are already locked in by past emissions, adaptation planning is needed to limit the damage caused by climate change and the long-term costs of responding to climate-related impacts.
All levels of government, the private sector, and citizens have roles to play in addressing climate change. Some aspects of the climate problem are best addressed at the local government level, such as greenhouse gas emission reductions through smart growth, transportation planning, and conserving energy in government buildings. The City of Alexandria has taken multiple steps to ensure we do our part to fight the climate crisis.
City’s Climate Initiatives
PARTNERSHIPS AND PLEDGES
The City of Alexandria has signed onto and/or supported several climate change partnerships and pledges:
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG). The City works with COG to develop a region wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory and a corresponding downscaled GHG inventory for the City. The City supported the development of the region's Metropolitan Washington 2030 Climate and Energy Action Plan.
- We Are Still In. Over 3,500 organizations including 282 cities and counties and the City of Alexandria have signed onto the We Are Still In declaration as a joint statement of support for the 2015 Paris Agreement.
- The U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement. Over 1,000 mayors have vowed to reduce carbon emissions in their cities below 1990 levels, in line with the Kyoto Protocol. The City signed onto this agreement in 2005.
- U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED for Cities. The City has achieved LEED Gold certification under the new v4.1 rating system which evaluates cities’ performance against key climate change action metrics in areas of energy, water, waste, transportation, education, health, safety, prosperity and equitability.
GHG EMISSIONS INVENTORY
The City collaborates with the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) to prepare a GHG Inventory roughly every three years for both the community and City government. The first inventory was completed for calendar year 2005 in 2009 and since then the City has calculated an inventory for 2012, 2015, and 2018. The GHG Inventory is prepared utilizing the established ICLEI Community Protocol greenhouse gas emission inventory calculation and evaluation methodology.
The 2018 GHG Inventory shows an overall emissions reduction of 18% from the base year 2005, even with a 17% increase in population. Per capita trending has gone down 30% from 13.3 metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent (MTCO2e) in 2005 to 9.4 in 2018. Over this time emission from the transportation sector contribution to emissions has increased 5% and the built environment has decreased 8% as the electric grid transitioned from coal to gas with a small but growing amount of renewables.
The City of Alexandria facilities and operations account for only about 4%. Thus participation from all parts of the business and residential community is needed to reach the Environmental Action Plan (EAP) 2040 goals of 50% emissions reduction by 2030 and 80-100% reduction by 2050.
ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION PLAN 2012 – 2020 (ECAP)
The City of Alexandria developed the eCAP in 2011 to build on the work done in developing the Environmental Action Plan 2030 and further define the City’s path to achieving significant GHG emission reductions. The report lays out the potential local impacts of climate change (known in 2011), the steps the City had already undertaken to address climate change, and steps the City could take to mitigate and adapt to future climate change.
The City is in process of updating the Energy and Climate Change Action Plan. Learn more by visiting the Energy and Climate Change Action Plan website.
Community & Climate Change
City government operations generate only 4 percent of the City’s total GHG emissions. The remaining 96 percent comes from the community, visitors, and related travel associated with the city. If the City wishes to meet a goal of 80 percent reduction in GHG emissions by 2050, it will need support by all who live, work, visit, and enjoy the city.
Please refer to the Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Green Purchasing, and Electric Vehicle sections to learn more about available options to reduce your carbon footprint.
A great first step to lowering your carbon emissions is to calculate your carbon footprint. The EPA provides a great resource with their GHG Household Emissions Calculator.